‘I put my heart and soul into this’: Dubuque couple plans to rebuild after devastating fire

A community is rallying behind a Dubuque couple who lost two of their businesses in a devastating fire.

Last week, a fire destroyed Charlotte’s Coffee House and Drake House Vacation Rentals, both owned by Cheryl and Don Rusk. Firefighters say leftover ashes from a BBQ grill were thrown into a garbage can, sparking the fire which quickly spread.

Cheryl Rusk says her two businesses have to be gutted.

She said, "We are absolutely shocked, it seems surreal. I didn’t cry, that’s what surprises me about myself, because it’s so unreal."

For the Rusk’s, these are the remnants of a life-long dream. It took three years of hard work to completely redo the former run-down apartment space into a cozy coffee house and vacation rental. She says she plans to work just as hard to bring it back.

Rusk said, "I put my heart and soul into this and I can’t imagine in one night… it’s gone? It’s over? No, I loved it too much."

It will take a lot of work…

"Floors have to come up, walls have to come off and the ceilings have to come down, back down to the shell," Rusk said.

Rusk says they are determined to re-open, better than ever, with a bit of a different layout now.

She said, "We are going to do it right because the first time I did it, I didn’t know what I was doing." She continued, "I worked in an office my whole adult life and then decided to do this."

She’s already brewin’ up the ideas and coffee again, thanks to the community’s support. Dubuque Main Street donated a space at the Farmers Market, so Charlotte’s Coffee House will have a tent this Saturday. Rusk also said they bought a food truck and plan to open that very soon. 



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